Jargon Buster

Legal Terms Jargon Buster

BANKRUPTCY SEARCH : A search on behalf of the lending institution to ensure you are not bankrupt. top

BUILDING REGULATIONS APPROVAL : work of a structural nature must have approval from the local authority under the Public Health Acts.  Examples are: erection of an extension or a loft conversion.  However sight of approved plans does not mean that the work has been carried out in accordance with the plans top

CAVEAT EMPTOR :  literally, buyer beware - the physical state of the property is the buyer's responsibility.  You cannot take action against the seller for any problems related to the physical state of the property unless you can prove that the seller new of the defects and deliberately hid them.  It is essential that you arrange for a survey to be carried out before you exchange contracts top

THE CHAIN :  most people moving house will have a property to sell and one to buy, and will want to coincide the two transactions. There may be several people in this situation and hence a chain of transactions will be formed.  Generally, the longer the chain the longer it takes to reach exchange of contracts.  Everyone has to wait for the last person to be ready. top

CHARGE :  a mortgage is registered on the title as a charge.  Also includes covenants, easements, cautions etc.  The owner of the property is responsible for all charges no matter when they were registered. top

CHATTELS :  items not fixed to the house; must be distinguished from fixtures and fittings. Can be difficult to decide which is which so a list of items to be left is usually completed by the seller. top

COMMONHOLD:   intended to replace existing arrangements for the way title to a flat is held.  The title for the building and land will be jointly owned by the individual owners of the flats.  A community statement will determine the relationship of each flat owner but all lessees will have a say in the way maintenance is carried out. top

COMPLETION: moving day, when the money is paid to the seller's solicitors and the keys handed over. top

COMPLETION CERTIFICATE :  this confirms that work has been carried out in accordance with building regulations.  Often overlooked because the local authority will not issue one unless asked. top

CONTRACT: The formal document which when signed and exchanged binds the seller and buyer to each other to complete the transfer of the property. It normally includes details of the price, the parties, description of the property and any other terms. top

CONVEYANCING:   dealing with the legal side of buying a property; checking title, carrying out searches, etc. and ensuring that the buyer gets good title on completion.  It does not involve negotiating the additional costs for loo roll holders, etc. but this does happen! top

CO-OWNERSHIP : If more than one person buys a property then there has to be an agreement as to the percentage of ownership and what happens when either party dies unless the survivor of the co-owners is to take the property, the agreement is called a Declaration of Trust. top

COVENANTS:   the title deeds will usually contain several covenants; these are a promise to do or not to do certain things on the land.  Negative covenants should be obeyed, whereas positive covenants cannot usually be enforced once the property has been sold.  A covenant to maintain a fence is a positive covenant. top

DECLARATION OF TRUST:     See co-ownership . top

DEPOSIT: The amount of money put down by a buyer on exchange of Contracts (usually 5% or 10% of the purchase price) as evidence of his good faith to proceed. This can be forfeited by the seller in certain circumstances if the buyer fails to complete. top

DISBURSEMENTS:   costs which you will incur and which we pay on your behalf; often lumped together with "legal fees".  Usually include stamp duty, Land Registry fees, search fees etc. top

EASEMENTS: Rights that your property  enjoys  over other  properties  or other properties  enjoy over yours,  eg rights of access.  top

EXCHANGE OF CONTRACTS: The moment that the Contract becomes binding on both seller and buyer when both parties are bound to continue. Any withdrawal from the transaction after exchange is likely to  impose a great expense on the  party who withdraws. top

FIXTURES & FITTINGS FORM: A questionnaire which indicates what items the seller at the property is taking and leaving, and sometimes what items he wishes to sell. top

FREEHOLD TITLE:   most houses have freehold title giving the owner outright ownership of the land.  However see covenants above. top

GAZUMPING:   where the seller asks for more money just before exchange of contracts. Only a problem when house prices are rising rapidly. top

GAZUNDERING :   Where the buyer makes a lower offer just before exchange of contracts. top

INDEX MAP SEARCH: A search to establish if the  title to the property is a registered property or if it is unregistered at the Land Registry. top

JOINT TENANCY: (see Co-ownership)Where, on the death of a co-owner, the entire property will pass to the survivor(s) top

LAND CERTIFICATE: The Certificate supplied by the Land Registry proving  ownership of a property registered at the Land Registry. If your property is subject to a charge or mortgage, a Charge Certificate is issued instead, which will be kept by your lender. See also Registered Land . top

LAND REGISTRY : The Central and District  government registries  where details of registered titles are kept. top

LAND REGSITRY FEE: A fee payable to the Government for registering you as the owner of the property at the Land Registry, and also for registering any other transactions related to Registered Land . top

LAND REGISTRY SEARCH : A search to establish that there are no additional entries on the Register of Title since the date of issue of an official copy. top

LEASEHOLD TITLE:   flats and maisonettes must have a lease which sets out the responsibilities for maintenance etc.  Positive covenants in a lease can be enforced by the freeholder, who can evict you in extreme cases. Although this is rarely invoked the threat gives the freeholder a great deal of power.  All leasehold properties must have a period when the lease ends and it reverts back to the freeholder. top

LESSOR :   synonymous with freeholder and landlord top

LOAN AGREEMENT : See Mortgage Offer top

LOCAL SEARCH: A search with the Local Authority to establish their views on such issues as roads, drains, planning and general development in the local area. top

MORTGAGE : A loan to help you buy a house, flat, or other property. Sometimes called a charge. top

MORTGAGE OFFER: The offer of a loan of finance to you by your lending institution. This becomes a Loan Agreement when the offer is accepted. top

OFFICE COPY ENTRIES     (Sometimes shortened to office copies) The official copy of a Land or Charge Certificate obtained from the Land Registry. Office Copies of individual documents can usually be obtained. top

PLANNING PERMISSION:   this must be granted for change of use, eg. conversion to flats or erection of an extension which significantly increases the living area of the property.  top

PROPERTY INFORMATION FORM: A questionnaire to be completed by a seller to give details of matters which affect the property, eg, boundary ownership, disputes, guarantees, occupiers and planning. top

REDEMPTION STATEMENT: Details of monies owed to your financial institution which will need to be repaid on completion of a sale or re-mortgage. top

REGISTERED LAND: A title which is centrally filed at the Land Registry on which all details are kept of matters which affect the property including easements, charges, restrictive covenants and who owns the property. The  Land Certificate or Charge Certificate are copies of information held by the Land Registry. top

RESTRICTIVE COVENENANT: Restrictions imposed on a property effectively being things you are not allowed to do, eg, not alter the appearance of the property or build in the garden. top

RETENTION: sometimes the lender will insist that money is held back from the mortgage advance until certain work is done.  This is a vicious weapon since you will have to find the amount of the retention and the money necessary to carry out the work, at a time when you can least afford it.  It is completely pointless, and a hangover from the days when "the lender knew best". top

STAMP DUTY: A Government Tax  payable by the buyer, on moving if the price of the property exceeds a certain figure. top

SURVEY:     A report carried out by a surveyor on the physical state of the property. top

TENANCY IN COMMON::     Where on the death of the Co-Owner his/her share of the property passes by will or intestacy, see Co-Ownership. top

TITLE DEEDS The documents which prove you own the property. top

TRANSFER DEED: The document which formally transfers title on registration at the Land Registry from the seller to buyer. top

TRANSFER OF EQUITY:      A sale or gift of one person's interest in the property to another, most commonly on divorce or separation where the family home is jointly owned property. top

UNREGISTERED LAND: A title which is yet to be registered and for which there are a number of documents not yet sorted into a Land Registry file for which a Certificate of Title would be issued. .top

   VALUATION: the lender will employ a surveyor to inspect the property to ensure that it is worth what you are paying for it.  You will have to pay for this, even if you do not see a copy (some lenders will refuse to provide this).  The surveyor will often suggest that you obtain specialist reports to check out drains, woodworm, dry rot, etc.  This can delay the legal process if you need to send copies of these to the lender before they confirm that the mortgage offer is unconditional. top